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Dutch kidney donor TV show

5th June 2007

A Dutch reality TV show which claimed to feature a dying woman choosing a kidney patient to donate a kidney to has been widely criticised after it was revealed by the producers to be a hoax.

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But, it has also prompted a wave of requests for donor forms after it said it broadcast the spoof "Big Donor Show" to publicise the lack of organ donors.

The Netherlands has one of the lowest donor rates in Europe, government figures show. About 200 people die each year while waiting for a kidney, and the average waiting time is more than four years.

The issue isn't confined to The Netherlands either. Across the European Union, 40,000 patients are waiting for an organ transplant, and they face a mortality rate of between 15 and 30%

Programme makers defended the show after 50,000 Netherlands residents requested donor forms. The founder of the broadcasting company, BNN, died at the age of 35 of kidney failure.

BNN used an actress to play the part of Lisa, the dying woman who wanted to donate her kidneys, though the three possible recipients were real patients who need organ transplants.

Lisa was to make her choice based on the contestants' history and profile, and conversation with their family and friends.

Before the hoax was revealed, there were calls from lawmakers to ban the show and Dutch embassies received complaints about it.

The EU Health Commissioner has proposed an organ donor card to cover all member states. Most Europeans support using donor cards - but only 12% carry one. The Commission's strategy paper also suggests guidelines to control the supply of organs between member states.

It proposes creating organ transplant coordinators in hospitals and making better use of living donors.




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